William Edward (Eddie) May went home to the Lord on Friday, June 25, 2021. His daughter and granddaughter surrounded him with love as he passed from this world. Anyone who knew Eddie have memories of how funny, loving, and generous he was. Everyone knew when Eddie walked into a room. He radiated with his smile and vibrant personality. He was a true leader. People gravitated to him and he generally kept them laughing. He never met a stranger. Eddie grabbed life and rode it to its fullest. “Larger than life” is an understatement of him. His many hobbies such as hunting and fishing brought him much joy. He could take down a buck or a quail with an eagle eye of accuracy. He loved traveling with Whiz in his motor coach and he cherished the hours he spent making rocking chairs. He was an artist with any tool. His passion for giving was exalted as he built and gave away all 45 rocking chairs that he made.
Eddie was born on March 29, 1931 in Pampa Texas to Francis Beatrice Martin May and Kit May. He learned at an early age that hard work was the only way to afford him the life he desired. The word, “can’t” was not in his vocabulary. He mowed lawns, sold subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal. Then he started delivering two papers in Beaumont and soon expanded his territory and products to include the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle. So, he was making money from two companies and the subscriptions on the side. It was hard work and early mornings, but not bad for a boy not yet 11 years old.
1947 found him in the United States Army Air Corp, the precedent of the United States Air Force. If you do the math, you will see he was too young and had lied about his age–something he continued for the rest of his life. But instead of saying he was older, he became younger every year. He had a perpetual youthfulness until the last few years.
July 14, 1950, he married the love of his life, Ella Katheryn (Whiz) Sparks May. He began working for Liggett and Myers tobacco company and stayed for eight years with the Ditmars Tobacco Company. When they offered him a big promotion that would mean moving to Seattle, Eddie decided to stay in the Valley. He began to work for Mr. Grant Klopfenstein as an employee and in one year, he had bought half of that company. That was the start of a 49-year insurance profession and the focus of his career. He amassed an extremely successful business with May and Associates Insurance, becoming one of the largest agencies in South Texas.
Many wonderful things happened to him. His business years and going through all of the experiences enabled him opportunities such as becoming an early member of the Confederate Air Force, now called The Commemorative Air Force. He learned to fly and owned several aircraft. He was inducted into the Commemorative Air Force Hall of Fame and is lovingly referred to as, “The Mouth of the South”. He was master of ceremonies for all of their activities and the multiple air shows over 29 years. Tennessee Ernie Ford joined him as co-announcer and they became close personal friends. He served also as the Chief of Staff which gave him the opportunity to meet and pin CAF wings on President Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Jimmy Stewart, many WWII aces including, Pappy Boynton and Paul Tibbets, who dropped the atomic bombs, General Jimmy Dolittle, and many others including Adolf Galland, head of the German Air Forces.
In 1987, Eddie took a fishing trip to Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada. He fell in love with the place and soon, he and Whiz were home owners on Vancouver Island on the beach looking out over the Strait of Georgia in the Pacific Ocean. He learned to deep water salmon fish like a pro and was honored by becoming a Tyee fisherman, a native Canadian indigenous people’s fishing tradition of catching a salmon in a small craft which must weigh no less than 30 pounds in imperial weight. It was an experience that was seared into his mind for the rest of his life. He learned to smoke salmon and canned cases of the delicious fish every year. He loved entertaining and Campbell River was no different. Many friends, old and new, were always welcome at their home. He and Whiz spent 14 beautiful years there.
In 2000, they sold the house in Canada so they could spend more time with their only granddaughter, Annlyn. Continuing his love for fishing, Eddie bought a place on the Arroyo Colorado and set up his fishing getaway and his wood-working shop.
In 2002, Eddie resigned as CEO of May and Associates Insurance and stepped out to let the younger partners take over the company. Stepping out of the business world left him a bit misplaced. That was when his brother-in-law and dear friend, Sam Sparks said, “May…buy land!” And so, he did, becoming a so-called gentleman farmer. He loved walking the rows of cotton and drove to the farm nearly every day until he was no longer able.
Eddie was a 32-degree Mason and in May of 2003, Eddie had the high honor of being celebrated as a Scottish Rite Mason for fifty years. At the time of his death, Eddie was a devoted Scottish Rite Freemason of 68 years. He was an Al Amin Shriner and played his horn, wore his Fez, and marched in every parade for many years. He was a big supporter of the fine work of the Shriners. He firmly believed their motto, “No man stands so tall as he who stoops to help a child.”
Eddie was a member of the 8th and Harrison Christ of Christ in Harlingen. He was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and a strong defender of our 2nd amendment rights. He supported and was a member of many conservation groups along the Gulf Coast. Eddie found time to serve and to help whatever cause and whenever he was called upon.
Eddie built a strong and loving home for his family. Family was first to him and he never failed to say, “I love you”.
Eddie is preceded in death, by both parents, five siblings; Kit Martin May, Lyndall May Owens, Gene May, Jeanine May Cradit and Leon W. May.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Ella Katheryn (Whiz) Sparks May, His only child, Jayre Dianne May-Vicars (Buster), and his only grandchild, Annlyn May Whaley Podojil ( Logan). He has a five and a half-month great-granddaughter, Ella Katheryn Podojil.
According to his wishes, Eddie will be cremated and his ashes scattered over his beloved Laguna Madre. A celebration of Eddie’s life will be at Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home on July 24 at 4PM. Visitation and reception with family will be 3:00 to 4:00 PM, the celebration of life, time for friends to talk about their friend, short message by Jacob Vincent, The Masonic dedication, and the Veterans honors will be 4:00 to 5:30. The CAF fly over will close our celebration for a life well lived and a man so loved at 6:00 PM. “In true Eddie Fashion, you may wear your favorite fishing or hunting attire.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Eddie’s memory to the Al Amin Shriners, 2001 Suntide Rd., Corpus Christi, TX 78409 or the charity of your personal choice.
A special thank you to Harlingen Medical Center, Kindred Hospice, and Sunshine Haven for their compassionate care during his final days. A very special thank you to Mr. Jim Pitts and Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home who helped set up all the honors for our treasured father and grandfather. Thank you to all his friends and family who have weathered the storm of his declining health for the last few years. He loved you all and is now making deals with Sam Sparks in paradise.
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